Thursday links: Kiper predicts Chiefs will take Marqise Lee in latest mock draft

04/17/2014 11:25 AM

04/17/2014 11:25 AM

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper released his fourth NFL Draft projection

on Thursday, and for the second time in a row, he predicted the Chiefs will select Southern California receiver Marqise Lee with the 23rd overall pick.

“The Chiefs are a team I could see moving down, particularly since wide receiver is a need area,” Kiper writes. “The Chiefs don’t have their second-round pick due to the Alex Smith trade, and it’s a deep draft at receiver. However, in this case I think they’d be walking away with a pretty nice fit in Lee, a player with the route-running and run-after-catch ability that could make him a great fit in this offense.”

Lee, 6 feet and 192 pounds, is three-year starter who was hampered by injuries this season and caught 57 passes for 791 yards and four touchdowns, all of which were career lows. He won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver in 2012, when he caught a team-high 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns and was also named Pac-12 offensive player of the year.

This is the third straight time Kiper has predicted the Chiefs will take a receiver. In his second mock draft, he predicted the Chiefs will take Florida State receiver Kelvin Benjamin. In his first mock draft, he predicted the Chiefs will take Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt.

Receiver seems to be a popular choice for the Chiefs these days. Several draft analysts, including

Todd McShay and NFL Network’s slew of people

, have a receiver being mocked to the Chiefs.

It makes sense. The Chiefs whiffed on Emmanuel Sanders and have done little this offseason to upgrade a group that definitely needs more playmaking ability, particularly after Dexter McCluster walked in free agency.

The staff remains optimistic about the potential of A.J. Jenkins, but Dwayne Bowe is coming off one of his worst seasons, and Donnie Avery was inconsistent last season. Junior Hemingway flashed potential last season and CFL import Weston Dressler has promise, but it stands to reason the Chiefs will want to upgrade at this position, just to be safe.

That said, I’m still not sure they’re as locked into taking a receiver in the first round as everyone thinks they are. For one, it’s such a deep draft group at the position that the Chiefs can find someone who fits in the third round. That would free them up to take a pass rusher early, though there are a lot of intriguing 3-4 outside linebackers in this draft, or even an offensive lineman. Like Kiper said, I also wouldn’t be shocked by a trade down unless a premium talent falls to them at 23.

Other links …

• The Chiefs are apparently

among the 17 teams watching

Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley’s workout today. Easley is a prototype three-technique defensive tackle so on paper, I’m not sure he’s an ideal fit. However, I said the same about former Mizzou star Sheldon Richardson, and that didn’t keep Richardson from ripping the league up last season in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense. The lesson I learned from that? Pass rushers are pass rushers, and every team needs them. Good coaches find a way to make it work.

• The always-excellent Matt Bowen

breaks down

the top five receivers in the draft. Go watch the video, but one thing that catches my eye is that Bowen has USC’s Marqise Lee outside his top five. Hmm.

• The New York Times

takes a deep, interesting look at the Jameis Winston investigation, and determines it was “flawed.”

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